August 12th, 2008
11:00 AM ET
11 years ago

McCain: Putin wants 'to restore the old Russian empire'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain sharpened his criticism of Putin Tuesday."]
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) - John McCain is turning up the heat on Moscow, and accusing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of wanting to “restore the old Russian empire.”

McCain’s comments came in an interview with Harrisburg public radio WITF, in which he hammered Putin for continuing to wield power since leaving the presidency behind earlier this year and installing his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

Watch: McCain says 'we are all Georgians'

“I don’t think there’s any doubt who is still by far the most powerful and influential person in Russia,” McCain said, arguing that Putin’s “personal control” of the military “indicates his position of power.”

“Of course we have to deal with Russia and we deal with Putin,” McCain said. “But it has to be on a very realistic basis. And not one that there’s any illusions about his ambitions.”

Watch: McCain condemns Russia

He then accused Putin of wanting to restore Russia to the days of czardom, when a monarchy exerted broad control over parts of Asia and eastern Europe.

“I think it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire,” he said. “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire.”

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Nom Deplume

    President Obama: 2nd Carter term

    Here's a tip: Buy defense industry stocks–in 2011.

    August 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Janet Jacme

    Did you look into his eyes and see his soul?

    I guess you're a mind reader now, eh John?

    August 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Steve, Madison WI

    More fear mongering – Russia's economy is worse than the US. There is no way they can return to the empire they once had. Of course, McSame doesn't understand our economy, much less anyone else's.

    McBush will just "saber-rattle" and hope the "rah-rah" "freedom, liberty, bah, blah" Fox News addicts will blindly vote another moron into power.

    Go ahead, but then never complain when you lose your job, corporations and the wealthy get richer, we fight endless wars, and the things get worse than they are now. You will be getting what you deserve for being so easily deceived. Suckers!!

    August 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Jeronimo!

    Meanwhile, the entire world laughs at this imperialist cowboy and his partys' hypocracy.

    August 12, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. Mike in California

    John McCain (given his recent attacks, I do not have the respect for him to refer to him by title) is a dangerous man. He wants to provoke a fight with Russia in order to promote fear at home in the hope of making himself look tough and more electable. McCain sees himself in the Ronald Reagan mold of fighting comunism. He has advocated for removing Russia from the G8, and recently referred to it as the G7, taking the Bush approach that if you say it, it will be so!

    I fear that if John McCain is elected, we will go through four years war and the perpetual threat of war.

    Change > Fear
    change is greater than fear

    August 12, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Ted - NYC

    McWar! Any reason to make the environment more hostile. The man is a war monger. We don't need this again!

    August 12, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. S.M

    Putin is no longer in office but anyone who has common sense, knows that this new president is nothing but a puppet like Bush. When leaders abuse their power; than God will put a stop to their evil ways.

    August 12, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Denise Groves

    Wait a minute, it took Putin invading georgia before McJealous could reach this conclusion? I knew that about two years ago when the Soviet man died in a London hospital from being poisoned. That's what happens when you are old? Takes a while for things to register.

    August 12, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. karen-phoenix

    Warmonger McCain at it again!!! I for one do NOT ever want to hide under my school desk again for an atomic bomb raid test!!! Peace and diplomacy!!!! Let countries run themselves. We can not be the police to the whole world! Iraq has killed millions of Iraqis, thousands of Americans and stripped our financial cupboard bare!!! Go Obama!

    August 12, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Ted van Tol

    I think McCain does! (or the Cheney's whom are whispering
    his lines in his ear).
    John McCain is out of touch on every issue.

    August 12, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Max

    Cool, McCartheyism is returning.

    August 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Senator McCain, can you answer why you were admitted to flight school ahead of dozens, and I mean dozens, of more qualified candidates?

    Also, when does your wife, the trophy heiress, release her tax statements?

    August 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Jean, CANADA

    Itching for another war McCain?? this is exactly why you CANNOT be the next president. War of words leads to escalation. Escalation leads to less cooler heads prevailing. Less cooler heads means hot heads like you starting another world war over who has the bigger cojenes.

    this isn't the cold war isn't a game that perhaps your children or grandchildren would's actual young lives wasted for the glory of???????????????????? PRIDE?????? Gimme a ffin break!! your economy is a joke; people are starving the price of a home is no longer affordable and people are losing jobs.

    So your telling me that a young man or woman's best hope of survival and self betterment is to fight for a country that is less than desireable??

    STOP wasting America and the worlds time by Running for president. Make way for TRUE CHANGE.

    OBAMA 08, 12 the TRUTH......

    August 12, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  14. Travis

    McWar...NO-ONE in the world is listening to you......NO-ONE

    I didn't know McWar was the anointed president..ISN'T BUSH?...or at

    least president by name. IDIOT #1

    Now McWar is trying to show what he would do as far as pushing

    people around....Putin the prime minister of Germany isn't listening

    around....HELLO....nobody is listening to you OLD MAN.......IDIOT #2

    Americans are laughing at you McBush.....take a back seat.

    August 12, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |


    There goes those international relationship skills. He is not even President, yet he has put up road blocks between America and Russia. Cowboy up just like G. W. Bush.

    August 12, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    Here is the “pot calling the kettle black”. Bush with the support of McCain and his likes morally bankrupted the USA leadership in the world and here is the true definition of empty words. Can Bush or McCain right now get any support from any other country in the world to help Georgia whose sovereign nation is being raped by Russia? Guess what Russians knows empty words when they hear them. With US troops buried in Iraq until victory is secured (whatever that victory might be), America has its hands tied behind its back and Bush has his foot in his mouth gagging trying to tell Russia to respect Georgia’s sovereignty. What a joke! And this is beyond lame. My 5 months old SON is better than this, he says a lot that I don’t understand but we communicate and understand each other very well.

    August 12, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    McCain is learning from his pal, Tom Ridge.

    "BE AFRAID!!!,,,,,,,BVE VERRYYYY AFRAID!!!!!!!!!!"

    August 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. Jason, Los Angeles


    Hopefully the rest of America will remember that the Cold War was a bad thing. Sometimes I just get the feeling that McCain gets off on war and conflict. He has no place in the Oval Office.

    August 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. biffington, biff

    That's it...... that's it McCain..... keep that fear going..... the fear of a russian empire.. the fear of terrorists..... the fear of....(insert fear here)...

    just keep 'em scared.... they'll vote for you! Scare them into voting against their own best interests.... YET again...

    “I think it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire,” he said. “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire.”

    and um... we'll all be speaking 'russian' by christmas......
    cause if we don't fight them over there....
    and george bush could see into putin's soul...
    and um... oh yeah... COMMUNISM.... you know.... COMMUNISM.... BAD
    my friends.... um... un-AMERICAN.... and no values, and stuff.....
    oh.. and wait... i forgot to mention.... putin and bin-ladin are um.. BROTHERS... and were partners on 911... YEAH... 'that's the ticket'


    August 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. kwesi

    This guy is out of touch...he's is too old. Plus we have heard similar comments from one Texas oilman...our current president!

    August 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Joyce, ny

    And it's OK for America to invade Iraq?

    Careful John, Bush just might have a photo op with Putin whom he is good friends with.

    August 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Ex-Republican for Obama

    This man will not SAVE us from WW III, he will CAUSE it!

    He is already making it clear that his agenda includes invading Russia for the sole purpose of an oil pipe-line.

    No to McCain, he will destroy the world.

    August 12, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Fordy

    World War III is upon us. God help us all(If McCain becomes president).

    August 12, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Mike - Texas

    I disagree with McCain.

    Putin is former KGB and while he may not want to go back to the days of Stalin, he does want to rule Russia with an iron fist.

    For times like this, we do not need an amature in the White House, we need someone with experience like McCain.

    Putin will challenge the next American President in much the same way that JFK was challenged.

    Obama = amature
    McCain = experience

    August 12, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. jr

    McCain's comments and insight into the situation are right on the money. Whereas, we've heard nothing insightful to-date on the topic from Obama. Why, well he probably needs to be told what to say by his handlers who also have no clue. Just another sign that he lacks the foreign policy credentials needed for the job.

    August 12, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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